As more businesses prepare to reopen, confirmed COVID-19 cases crossed the 10,000 mark Thursday in Riverside County, and the region’s health officer urged residents not to become complacent about protecting themselves from the highly contagious virus.
The Riverside University Health System reported 329 new infections and five additional deaths, bringing the cumulative countywide case number to 10,240 and the number of fatalities to 377.
“We forecasted sporadic outbreaks through the summer, and those forecasts so far are coming true,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County’s health officer.
“It’s time to think about what the fall will bring, and those initial estimates aren’t good,” he said. “If we’re not observing social distancing and facial coverings, two things that helped before and are helping now, we’re going to lose the progress we’ve made.”
Single-day case reporting records were broken three times this week since the first locally acquired coronavirus case was reported on March 8. Thursday’s case number ranked second highest behind Tuesday, when 384 newly confirmed infections were reported.
Part of the uptick is due to an outbreak at Chuckawalla Valley State Prison, which is included in the county’s tally, according to RUHS spokesman Jose Arballo.
As of Thursday, 998 inmates at the men’s prison in Blythe were infected with the virus, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The flare-up represents the worst outbreak in the entire state prison to date. No inmate deaths have been reported at the prison.
The number of hospitalized patients increased by five to 232, which includes 71 being treated in intensive care units, two fewer than Wednesday. The hospitalization tally includes residents from neighboring counties being treated in Riverside County, which received upwards of 100 patients from Imperial County beginning in the last two weeks of May.
More than 145,000 residents have been tested for the coronavirus in Riverside County, or more than 4% of the county’s population of nearly 2.5 million. Documented recoveries from COVID-19 total 5,714.
Riverside County has the second-highest number of cases and deaths statewide after Los Angeles.
Starting Friday, motels, gyms, bars and other businesses will be allowed to reopen after being shuttered due to state-at-home orders. Guests can expect to see a cap on capacity, social distancing protocols and other measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.